Sunday, April 12, 2009

I will forever bear these marks

I remember when I was a teenager and we lived across from a cemetery. I used to go there and walk around, reading headstones. It must seem like such an odd place for a teenager to want to be, but it was beautiful and it brought me peace in a way I can’t explain. One morning, I was walking through the cemetery, it had just stopped raining and as I carefully weaved my way through the gravestones, I felt this all consuming loneliness envelope me. Suddenly it was as though I couldn’t breathe, my vision narrowed and the tears began to tumble down my cheeks like rain. I sat down on the wet grass and cried until there were no more tears. My jeans were wet and I was chilled to the bone but I didn’t care. Sometimes, still today, I miss that cemetery. Even though everyone there was ‘dead’ it somehow made me feel comforted and less alone ~ maybe that’s because I felt ‘dead and alone’ inside too.

Its overcast here today, gray clouds hover close to the ground making me feel cold and depressed ~ in a strange way, my body seems to be telling me that something dreadful is going to happen soon. And I feel the innermost part of my hidden self continues to push forward in an burdensome and wearing way ~ an uninvited guest arriving at an inopportune time. My body continues to tell me secrets I never wanted to know, and I am held captive, unable to escape. The aching pain inside me, the unmet needs, I am a long way from understanding them, or even endure them. Despite the ‘self-soothing’ skills I have learned, I do not have what I need inside of me to ‘heal’ my pain. I could have enough DBT skills to fill the Atlantic Ocean and it wouldn’t be enough to offset the pain.

And I will forever bear the mark of a woman with a personality disorder, a mood disorder. I will always bear the label of a woman with an eating disorder, a self-mutilator. I will always carry the brand of ‘incest survivor’ and I will forever take medication just to stay alive. And the paradox is that as much as I abhor those labels, I find that I need them. They are me, they flow through my veins and when no one else is here, they are. Somehow they seem to explain the loneliness and despair. They illuminate why I feel as though I am broken into a million pieces, unable to put myself back together again. But I have nothing concrete to show for this abundance of internal pain. What I have are jagged external scars running from my wrists to my elbows that are a constant reminder of a time I did not choose life over death. Scars that I can hide from others with long sleeves, but I will never be able to hide from myself. What I have are 10 different bottles of medication and a pharmacist who knows me by name. What I have is the head of a Mrs. Beasley doll that belonged to a sad little girl. What I have is sadness captured in a few photos from childhood, hidden in a cardboard box in the corner of the den closet…photos that have bear the fingerprints of someone who wants a normal childhood, even today. What I don’t have, however, is my mind, an ability to trust, or an ability to rationalize and be a ‘normal’ human being. I carry with me a multitude of broken promises scattered on the bathroom floor, mingled with my blood. I look in the mirror and the woman looking back at me isn’t the ‘confident professional’ I pretend to be – in the mirror, without the mask, is the terrified, hurting little girl who has no idea if she is even real.

And every single day I look around and I try to figure out who I am, because at any given moment I could be someone different. I am breathing, I can feel my heart beating – but it isn’t me. It doesn’t matter what ‘self’ I put on to dazzle and charm the crowd, I no longer need my mother to remind me that I am unwanted…unloved. There is a voice inside of me, an internal judge, who repeats all my mother said to me, over and over again.

I wanted a teacher, a role model, someone to teach me what I never learned. I wanted to believe that she was real and genuine and not like my mother. I wanted someone to tell me that I am real and that I do matter. I wanted someone to know all of the people who live within me, and still care. I no longer think that person exists.

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